How does your country manage its Biodiversity?

Hi Folks

I recently had an interesting exchange on this thread regarding the regulations put in place (or not) to manage herbaria collections and overall biodiversity administration: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/what-is-the-best-way-to-collect-plant-specimens/31097

I thought I’d create a new topic to find out from you good folks how your country views its biodiversity and natural assets within its borders and what systems it has in place to ensure that said natural diversity thrives under protections whilst still adding value to the citizens of the country and bolstering the GDP?

Looking forward to hearing your answers!

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Great question!
I’m a student in Canada (Ontario), which is home to a wide range of environments, (i.e. tundra, prairies, wetlands, oceans/lakes, etc) and citizens generally enjoy the concept of biodiversity. Unfortunately, Canadians have a disproportionately large carbon footprint, attributed heavily to our usage of forests and underground oil reserves. There’s also a lot of dissent about whether pipelines to the US should be built or not because while it would provide jobs and boost the economy, it would also encroach on traditional Indigenous territory and damage the surrounding environmental areas. Although Canada has made significant changes, to protecting natural areas and green spaces, we still have a long way to go in terms of biodiversity protection. :herb:

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At least in the US you have to look at multiple levels of government— federal (eg, Endangered Species Act), State (state laws and regulations that protect and manage species and their habitats), and municipal. Lots of protected lands and habitats in addition to species-focused protections. Not to mention the nongovernmental entities protecting private lands such as Nature Conservancy. So it’s a big question with many answers.

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There’s also species lists for some tribes, like the Navajo Nation.

Overall, I think we manage biodiversity poorly, because iconic locations are protected (Yellowstone, Yosemite) and everything in between is fragmented, mined, logged, developed, and polluted. Many national forests allow ski areas (like Vail) and logging, BLM land allows grazing and hunting, and state parks are often designed more for recreation than conservation.

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It’s true that there is often a mix … protected areas aren’t necessarily as well protected as we nature lovers would like and there is a patchwork of uses on the landscape that don’t mesh well with species conservation. Too many people, too many uses and interests, all jockeying for the same limited resources. Nothing is really pristine anymore. The level of protection we might like to see is really not politically or economically feasible. Not that there aren’t places in the US that any nature lover would be amazed by.

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I’m Canadian as well (Winnipeg), and we have two jurisdictions responsible for the environment - Federal, and Provincial. And perhaps a third, municipal. In my assessment, we do a very bad job managing biodiversity. All in the sake of the ‘Economy’ and social norms.
A small example: I go along the Red River almost daily. The city often discharges raw sewage into the river because the province and the federal government won’t help out with upgrading facilities. It affects the river, and the lakes and rivers downstream. The city has adopted a ‘wildlife rehabilitation’ scheme along the river banks, and while it’s great, they still mow areas that are never, ever, used for any kind of recreation. Adding this land to the wilding scheme would be a small boost to biodiversity. And then people would complain about the ‘bugs’.
I’m not directly affected by the ‘natural resources’ sector, but yes, the Federal Government needs to appease the West, so these projects go along, with all the usual arguments. Hell, we don’t even have a mandate for buildings to protect birds from flying into tall buildings.
Frankly, I despair.
EDIT - Re-reading this post I should clarify that our Federal Government needs to appease Western Canada. Due to circumstances, most of our population lives east of Manitoba, so the electoral seats are there. Complaining about eastern Canada is a favourite pastime here.

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Years ago I read some sad blog posts from a woman, who would go each morning with her daughter, to collect those dead migrating birds.
Part of the problem was lights blazing all night?

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Do these multiple levels communicate well? I find that some government departments work almost entirely independently and do not co-operate with other departments.

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I thought sewage discharge in rivers only happen in over crowded countries that have low income. Does the general public complain?

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It is a substantial problem in the UK since they privatised water. Very few rivers are fit to swim in.

(And here in Third World South Africa, where Cape Town has 3 ‘marine outfalls’ for untreated sewage along the Atlantic Seaboard. I live along False Bay / Deep South where we do have sewage treatment)

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Oh, the public complains, especially when it happens in mid-winter, and it all ends up on top of the ice!
It’s caused by a few things. In parts of the city, older sewer lines drain both sewage and rainwater. Since we have had a very wet spring, that system has been overwhelmed. The sewage treatment plants need upgrading, so with rain, they can get overwhelmed and discharge untreated waste. No level of government seems to want to pay for the upgrades, so, on we go.
There is also the ‘out of sight out of mind’ factor. As long as it doesn’t back up into basements, most of the people in the city don’t really care. The waste, along with the runoff from pig barns, all ends up in Lake Winnipeg, and causes blue-green algae blooms almost ever summer.

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Pretty much the opposite of the old “tragedy of the commons” trope.

From Wild Justice newsletter no. 111, 9 June 2022:

Before the Bank Holiday weekend we filed a claim in the high court seeking a judicial review of Ofwat’s failure to regulate sewage discharges under the Water Industry Act 1991 and the Urban Waste Water Treatment (England and Wales) Regulations 1994.

You don’t need to be an expert to know that dumping raw sewage into rivers, lakes and the sea is bad news for those who use our waterways - from fish to those who want to take a dip in the water. And yet untreated sewage was discharged into watercourses over 350,000 times in each of the last two years.

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The 3 marine outfalls is sad news. You have so many treasures out there that could be affected by this kind of pollution like Kelp forests in the ocean, the breeding of the African Penguins or the migration of the Right Whale. It seems that whether we are first, second or third world we all suffer from the unwise discharge of sewage water.

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@jhbratton also somewhere they used to harvest shellfish? That ‘industry’ is dead as the shellfish is no longer fit for human consumption.

@sunbird I grew up on the Atlantic Seaboard. Only realised at a ratepayers’ meeting that the ‘sewage works’ on Camps Bay beach is simply a pumping station. Add in the restaurants along the tourist trap stretch who don’t clean their fat filters. We whine, but we haven’t made progress.

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In Britain when a site is identified as a biodiversity hotspot, it is normal for someone to build on it, plant trees on it or dig it up.